Case Summary


Citation 1992  PIQR  Q81  QBD
Decision Date 17/02/1992
Scheme Pre-tariff Schemes
Paragraph Number -
Keywords Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 1979 – Compensation – Procedure – Future loss – Expert evidence – Requirement to give reasons- adequacy of reasons
Headnote Summary of decision The reasons given by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board did not enable the applicant to know what issues the Board were addressing their minds to and the basis of fact upon which their conclusion had been reached. Therefore it was not possible for the applicant to know from what they had said whether the award was one which could be challenged. The application would therefore succeed, principally on the ground that the reasons given by the Board were inadequate. Facts The applicant (‘C’) sustained very serious injuries as a consequence of being attacked by a man while he was sleeping in the house that he shared with his mother. In the course of the attack he was stabbed repeatedly, one of the stab wounds causing a severe lesion on his spinal cord. He was rendered an incomplete tetraplegic. He was wheelchair bound and dependent on others in many aspects of self care. He made an application for compensation to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (‘the Board’) in 1989 when he was just 23 years old. Before the Board, at the hearing, was a report prepared by Dr Walsh in support of C’s claim, together with a care report. The Board concluded that as a consequence of the attack C had an incomplete tetraplegia and made an assessment of the level of damages to be awarded. He was awarded £392,686 after deduction of state benefits of which £80,000 was for general damages and £100,000 was a ‘rounded up’ figure for future losses –primarily future care. On the basis of Dr Walsh’s evidence and the care report – if accepted, then future losses would have amounted to somewhere in the region of £200,000. C applied for judicial review of the Board’s decision, principally in relation to their assessment of future care. It was contended on his behalf that in assessing damages the Board erred in:- (a) not assessing the cost of future care on a multiplier/multiplicand basis but instead awarding a round figure of £100,000; and (b) awarding the sum of £100,000 which was so unreasonably low as to be susceptible to challenge on the basis of Wednesbury unreasonableness. It was further argued on C’s behalf that there had been a failure to provide proper reasons. Held, allowing the application and directing that there be a re-hearing before the Board (1) There was nothing in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (‘the Scheme’) which imposed an obligation on the Board to slavishly follow the conventional methods of assessment. The Board was bound to assess damages in accordance with common law principles. (2) The Board’s assessment of damages for future care in the present case, even if it represented an incorrect figure with which in an action for personal injuries the Court of Appeal might be prepared to interfere, it was not so unreasonable as to justify the Court’s interference on Wednesbury grounds. (3) As to the sufficiency of the reasons, it was held that the amplified reasons did not enable C to know the basis of the fact on which the Board’s conclusion as to the level of damages for future care was based. (4) All that was required was an indication as to whether on the crucial issue the Board accepted or rejected the evidence of Dr Walsh, C or his mother; the level of care they found to be necessary and how it was to be provided; and the factors which led them to reject calculation in favour of a round figure. Accordingly C’s challenge to the Board’s conclusion would succeed, principally on the ground that the reasons given were inadequate. Parts of scheme and other legislation referred to in judgment 1979 Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, paragraphs 12, 7(b) and 6 Cases referred to in judgment Housecroft v. Burnett [1986] 1 All ER 33; Woodrup v. Nicol (unreported 24th April 1991); Stanley v. Saddique (Mohammed) and Others [1991] 2 WLR 459; Spittle & Others v. Bunney [1988] 1 WLR 847; Preson v. IRC [1985] AC 835, [1985] 2 All ER 327; Ex parte Brind [1991] AC 696; Save Britain’s Heritage v. Number 1 Poultry Limited [1991] 1 WLR 153; Hope v. Secretary of State for the Environment 59 P&CR 486; R v. Civil Service Appeal Board, ex parte Cunningham [1991] 4 All ER 310; R v. Immigration Appeal Tribunal, ex parte Khan (Mahmud) [1983] QB 790, [1983] 2 All ER 420; Representation R M Stewart QC and KL May for the Applicants; CF Pulman QC and A Foster for the Respondent
Download r_v_cicb_ex_parte_cummins.pdf